Nationals

Ex-Vols coach Fulmer entering Hall of Fame

Ex-Vols coach Fulmer entering Hall of Fame

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Even after Tennessee fired him in 2008, Phillip Fulmer always assumed he would coach again.

``I absolutely did,'' Fulmer said. ``I totally did. That's all I'd ever done, and I'd done it very well.''

Four years later, Fulmer still hasn't returned to the sidelines.

Though he hasn't closed the door on the possibility of a comeback, it seems less likely with each passing year. The latest signal of potential closure comes Tuesday when Fulmer is inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, an honor that generally comes after an individual has completed his career.

Fulmer will join former Miami coach Jimmy Johnson, former Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum and 14 former players in getting inducted at a National Football Foundation awards dinner in New York. Coaches must have served at least 10 seasons and 100 games while posting a winning percentage of at least .600 to be considered for the Hall of Fame. Coaches under the age of 70 must have been out of coaching for three years.

Fulmer, 62, says it hasn't sunk in that he's about to become a Hall of Famer. After all, he's younger than most of the other Hall of Fame coaches were upon their induction.

``I'm graciously accepting it,'' Fulmer said, ``but I'm too dang young.''

The honor has provided him an opportunity to reflect on his career.

Fulmer, who lettered as an offensive guard at Tennessee from 1969-71, won nearly three-quarters of his games and posted a 152-52 record at his alma mater. He coached Tennessee's first three games in 1992 while Johnny Majors recovered from heart surgery, then took over the program for good at the end of the 1992 regular season and remained in place through 2008. Tennessee won at least 10 games in nine of those years, including a 1998 national championship and a 1997 Southeastern Conference title. The Vols finished in the Top 25 in 13 of his 16 full seasons on the job.

``The consistency is what we were all about,'' Fulmer said. ``We tried to surround the team with a family kind of atmosphere. We did it all together - one for all, all for one.''

Fulmer's crowning achievement was the 1998 championship season.

Tennessee went undefeated that year and clinched the national title with a 23-16 Fiesta Bowl victory over Florida State. Tennessee won the championship despite having to replace eight overall draft picks and three first-round selections, including 1997 Heisman Trophy runner-up Peyton Manning.

``In a lot of ways, that team felt challenged because everybody didn't give them a chance to repeat as (SEC) champions or even have a really good team,'' Fulmer said. ``I think they bonded. They worked really hard. To be honest with you, I probably had three or four other teams that were physically better than that team. It's just one of those things where the stars don't line up. You have a tough loss somewhere along the way and you didn't quite get it done, and that team did.''

The national title capped a four-year stretch from 1995-98 in which Tennessee went 45-5.

When Fulmer looks back, he doesn't focus on individual games and seasons so much. He takes the most pride in his overall body of work.

``I had a fantastic career at one school, which is unheard of,'' Fulmer said. ``It being my school made it even more special.''

Tennessee's consistent success during the Fulmer era represents a major contrast from the instability that has hit the program since his departure. Lane Kiffin replaced Fulmer and stayed only one season before Southern California hired him away. Derek Dooley succeeded Kiffin and was fired Nov. 18 after going 15-21 in three seasons. Tennessee hasn't won more than seven games in a season since going 10-4 and capturing an Eastern Division title in 2007, Fulmer's second-to-last year.

Fulmer remains confident that Tennessee can win consistently again. He agreed with athletic director Dave Hart's comments at the press conference announcing Dooley's dismissal in regard to the challenges facing Tennessee. He has faith in Hart's ability to deal with those obstacles.

``I think Dave Hart really does get it,'' Fulmer said. ``He's a guy that is strong (enough) to lead our program out from where we are.''

Although Fulmer still refers to Tennessee in the first person, he hasn't ruled out the idea of coaching elsewhere. Fulmer said he's had chances to return, but he only wants to coach again if he finds an ideal situation. The opportunities he's received haven't been tempting enough to get him to spend that much time away from his family.

As he waits to see if the right coaching opportunity ever comes along, Fulmer works in the investment business as a partner at BPV Capital Management.

``I am competing every day,'' Fulmer said. ``I'm not nearly ready to retire. I'm just competing in another way.''

Quick Links

Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

The Washington Nationals decided to use “partial furloughs” to keep their baseball and business employees at work through the end of their contracts or the calendar year.

The road map works like this:

All full-time business and baseball employees will receive a reduction in pay and hours ranging from 10 to 30 percent. If the employee’s contract runs to the end of baseball season -- typically Oct. 31 -- then these parameters apply from now until then. If the employee is not on contract, these reductions persist until Dec. 31.

No full-time employee is being laid off because of the economic impact from coronavirus.

An example: If a person works a 40-hour week, and has the 10 percent reduction in pay and hours, they are down to a 36-hour week at 10 percent pay cut.

The reduction scale slides. The highest-paid employees, like Mike Rizzo, are taking the largest reduction in pay. Then on down the line.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE NATIONALS TALK PODCAST

The Nationals deciding to do this now allows their staff to know what the future holds as opposed to wondering month-to-month what decision the organization will make in regard to their job status.

Major League Baseball organizations remain uneasy about their financial future in 2020 since the season has stalled. The league and its team owners are in the midst of negotiations with the MLBPA while attempting to find a safe, revenue-satisfactory path back to the field.

Meanwhile, teams across the league are assessing their non-player finances, and the approach varies. For instance, the Anaheim Angels decided last week to furlough some non-playing employees.

In Washington, no full-time employee will be laid off because of this salary adjustment.

USA Today was first to report the Nationals’ overall decision.

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS:

Quick Links

Who will the Caps play in their first playoff series? The round robin, explained.

Who will the Caps play in their first playoff series? The round robin, explained.

Before the season pause, the Caps were in danger of falling down the standings. Now they could claim the top spot in the east.
 
When the NHL paused its season on March 12, the Capitals held just a one-point lead in the Metropolitan Division and trailed the conference-leading Boston Bruins by 10 points.

The Bruins held an almost insurmountable lead atop the conference and the Philadelphia Flyers were one of the hottest teams in the league. At that point, Washington looked more likely to drop in the standings than to climb. With the NHL’s new 24-team playoff format for the 2019-20 season, however, the Caps will have three games to possibly claim the top spot in the east.
 
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced on Tuesday the league’s return to play plan including the 24-team playoff format.

Washington, as one of the top four teams in the conference, will get a bye to the first round of the playoffs and not have to play in the play-in round. Instead, the Caps will play a round-robin tournament against the other top seeds in the conference: Boston, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia. The winner of that round robin will determine the seeds for the playoffs.
 
The inclusion of a round-robin has some fans a bit confused as it is not something seen in a normal season so let’s break it down.
 
First off, you can throw out the current seeding for the top four teams. The regular season records determined who the top four teams are, but that is it. They no longer matter. The round robin is a clean slate for those four teams. Washington will play each of the other teams once and regular season rules will apply. That means there will not be continuous overtime in a tie game, but instead it will go to five minutes of three-on-three followed by a shootout.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE CAPITALS TALK PODCAST



What this means is that Boston, despite being the presumptive Presidents’ Trophy winner, could fall all the way down to the No. 4 seed in the playoffs. The Caps, meanwhile, could claim the top spot in the conference with a strong showing in the round robin.
 
Why did the NHL do this? Bettman went into this in a video conference with the media after the initial announcement. Basically, this is an acknowledgment that the top teams need to play competitive games before playing against a team that had to win a playoff series just to get there.
 
What will be the reward for earning the top seed? It is not yet clear.
 
It has not yet been determined if the teams will be reseeded after the play-in round or if the playoff will be a bracket throughout. This could be significant depending on the upsets we see in the play-in round. For example, a bracket would set up for the No. 4 team to play the winner of the series between the No. 5 Pittsburgh Penguins and the No. 12 Montreal Canadiens. If Montreal pulls off the upset as the lowest seed, that would give the No. 4 seed the best matchup on paper in the next round while the No. 1 seed would be playing either the No. 8 or 9 seed.
 
As one of the top seeds, the Caps will finish no lower than No. 4 in the conference but could potentially finish No. 1.

But we are still a long way off from determining who Washington will play in their first playoff series.
 

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS: